DFIR-02 : Journal Forensics
Using $LogFile and $UsnJrnl during digital investigations

NTFS Journaling (Transaction Logging)

Windows NTFS uses a journaling technique that records a sequence of file changes in the $LogFile. Windows does a good job at maintaining data consistency after critical failures that cause the system to shut down unexpectedly. Specifically, NTFS logs file transactions when:
    Creating a file
    Deleting a file
    Extending a file
    Truncating a file
    Setting file information
    Renaming a file
    Change the security applied to a file
The previously analyzed $MFT file keeps a $LogFile Transaction entry at offset 08 to 15 and this is how MFT correlates with other metadata attributes in the NTFS file system.
$MFT $LogFile Transaction Entry
From a forensics' perspective these records are valuable when it comes to creating a timeline of transactions.

NTFS change tracking journals :

$UsnJrnl:

    Tracks file and directories changed on the system via the USN (Update Sequence Number) journal.
    Available in the root directory under $Extend folder.
    Contains two ADS (alternate data stream) :
      $Max : Where the meta data of change log is stored
      $J : Where the actual change log records are stored.

$LogFile:

    Track changes to MFT metadata.
    Available at the root directory.

Tools

In order to parse these journals here are some great free tools :

Tutorial

Here is a great video by @13cubed on how to parse and use these journals :
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Last modified 9mo ago